Colombia beat Senegal to top group, Japan also through on ‘fair play’

A towering header from Yerry Mina was somehow enough to sneak Colombia into the last 16, despite a game in which they were largely outplayed by Senegal. As such, the World Cup knockout stages will enjoy no African team; in the second round, Colombia – and Japan, who qualified with them – will meet either England or Belgium.

Senegal’s general play in the first half was terrific – Colombia simply could not compete with their pace, movement and interchanges, unable to get the ball forward never mind create opportunities. And on 17 minutes, Senegal thought they had a penalty, when Davinson Sanchez was adjudged to have fouled Sadio Mane, only for VAR to reveal a brilliant tackle.

Colombia improved their intensity after half-time, but still struggled to create. But as Senegal retreated, they enjoyed more time on the ball in attacking areas, and when, on 74 minutes they won a corner, Mina leapt brilliantly at the near post to guide home what proved to be the winner.

In the immediate aftermath of the goal, Senegal threatened an equaliser, but the final few minutes passed relatively calmly as Colombia passed and timewasted intelligently. Somehow – and without James Rodriguez, who departed in the first half, injured – they have found a way, though on the evidence of this performance, neither England nor Belgium have anything to fear.

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